TARRAH KRAJNAK | Rock, Paper, Sun


Saturday, 28 Jan 2023, 4-6 pm

Introduction by Florian Ebner, Head of Photography Department, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Live Performance Erasing Moonrise with Tarrah Krajnak: Saturday, 4 March, 4pm 

Galerie Thomas Zander is pleased to present the first exhibition of new work by Peruvian-American artist Tarrah Krajnak. Her work engages with the canon of modern photography and challenges its framing of American landscape and the female model, touching on ideas of nature, beauty, female agency and identity. 

In Krajnak’s earlier acclaimed series Master Rituals, the artist uses the camera, her body and performance to engage with the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston through acts of erasure, redaction, and re-enactment. The series consists of gelatin silver prints, book interventions, writing, video, and live performance. In her new work, Krajnak builds a different relationship with the land, engaging in direct contact with the natural world and paying homage to women artists who developed an alternative landscape photography centering around the body and the earth. This exhibition brings together new performance based works that grew out of several years of ritualized forms of writing and experimental photography. The works are grounded in ecopoetic thinking and the desire to access embodied forms of knowledge through attention to the environment, to the body’s presence, and to the rhythms of daily life. Across these works the artist seeks to form empathetic connections with the bodies of other beings – “human and non-human, real and imagined, living and dead”. Each photograph documents a direct contact with the natural world.
In her series Automatic Rocks/Excavation, Krajnak employs the Surrealist practice of automatic writing or écriture automatique. She photographs herself or her hands holding excavated rocks and pairs the images with photographed pages from her notebook, each showing a meditative handwritten passage with a sketch of the rock she held. A second series Automatic Rocks/Dark Constellations takes the form of solarized photograms. After each rock is dug up from the earth and held by the artist, it is placed on light sensitive paper and exposed to the sun, leaving a unique mark on the paper. Their shapes emerge in earthy colours on a deep black background. The work also refers to the astronomy of the Andean peoples who considered dark constellations in the Milky Way to be animate beings. A similar method is used in the making of the series Ayni, Offerings for my Sister. Taking its name from a word in the indigenous language Quechua, ayni, which means balance, the work refers to a ceremony where flowers, leaves and food are arranged on a white piece of paper as an expression of gratitude for the care of Mother Earth. This process echoes the earliest form of the photographic medium, cyanotype printing. In the series, Krajnak uses standing meditation and performance to make cyanotypes from multiple, prolonged exposures and arranges them in large-scale panels or single prints. The process involves physical contact with the paper, mark making that re-enacts the mark making of women who have influenced the artist’s practice. In the context of the exhibition Tarrah Krajnak will be present in Cologne for a live performance at the gallery on Saturday, 4 March at 4pm. The performance, titled Erasing Moonrise, is part of her work Master Rituals I: Ansel Adams. 

Tarrah Krajnak was born in Lima, Peru in 1979. She received a BFA from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, OH and an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, IN. Krajnak is an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Oregon and an artist-in-residence with Unseen California. The artist was awarded the Jury Prize of the Louis Roederer Discovery Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles, the Lewis Baltz Research Fund Award, and the Hariban Award, Kyoto. She is also a recipient of the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize by the Center for Documen­tary Studies at Duke University. Her monograph El Jardín De Senderos Que Se Bifurcan (2021) was named to MoMA’s list of the top ten photo books of the year and shortlisted for the Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award. Her book Master Rituals II: Weston’s Nudes, was published by TBW Books in 2022. This year, Krajnak’s work will be on view in the exhibitions Chronorama: Photographiques Treasures of the 20th Century, the Pinault Collection at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, Image/Counterimage at Museum Ludwig in Cologne, and at the new Photography Centre of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Her work is in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, the Centre George Pompidou, Paris, the Pinault Collection, Paris, Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Fondation A Stichting, Brussels and the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. She currently lives and works between Eugene, Oregon and Los Angeles.

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